Lucy Nichols ran from her master in Bolivar, Tennessee, to Union Army lines and freedom in August 1862. She became laundress, cook, and nurse for the Indiana 23rd Volunteer Regiment, and served with them through the duration of the war, seeing action at Vicksburg, in the Atlanta campaign, and Sherman's March to the Sea. After the war, Nichols returned to Indiana with the regiment and settled in New Albany, Indiana. She remained close to the men of the Indiana 23rd, who honored her wartime service with membership in the New Albany post of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) and helped her obtain an army pension in 1898. Yet despite her celebrity, Nichols--or "Aunt Lucy" as the veterans of the 23rd called her--never enjoyed a full measure of equality in post-war Indiana, her status and opportunities circumscribed by her race and gender.
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